Ramjattan to press Suriname for better info to relatives of missing fishermen

When Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan meets with the  Surinamese authorities today, he will be pleading for increased communication between them and relatives of the  fishermen missing following recent piracy attacks, among other requests.

“They did indicate that they want to see a little better communication with them and a number of other things which included hearing from the police and wanting to know the search will continue…,” Ramjattan told Stabroek News from Suriname where he currently is.

The Minister of Public Security arrived in the neighbouring country over the weekend and yesterday met with relatives of the victims of the attacks.

At today’s meeting, Ramjattan and his delegation will be meeting with Surinamese Minister of Police and Justice Stuart Faithful to discuss the way forward as it relates to the investigation into the horrific attack and the missing fishermen.

“We are going to have a very lengthy discussion on all that was going on in relation to this issue and other issues. This is the occasion for talks on a number of matters,” he asserted.

At a closed door meeting at the Guyana Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname, yesterday, Ramjattan, along with Deputy Crime Chief, Senior Superintendent M.Kings-ton and Deputy Commander of B Division, Wayne Dehearte, engaged with relatives and listened to their concerns. Guyana’s Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George was also a part of the meeting.

“It was a meeting to more or less give solidarity, comfort and conciliation to the deceased’s relatives and to ask them how they see the approaches, in relation to the investigation in Suriname…We want to hear from relatives of the deceased, as to how we can help them in their time grief,” Ramjattan said.

During the meeting, he explained that relatives requested better communication between them and the Surinamese police and for the searches to continue until the dozen missing persons are located.

According to the minister, he has assured the relatives that he would highlight their concerns to the Surinamese authorities today when they engage, even as he pledged government’s commitment to working with its counterpart in seeing they are taken care of.

“We told them we are here to tell Surinamese authorities that we want to collaborate and cooperate with them to the fullest,” he said.

Another issue raised, Ramjattan said, was the eagerness of families to have police turn over the corpses located thus far to them for funeral arrangements.

But he explained that while he understands their concerns, he had to explain that in such circumstances there are certain procedures that have  to be followed by every country and they have to be patient.

“It is an investigation now within the jurisdiction in Suriname… The Surinamese authorities have their procedures in which they would like to be certain who these bodies are and do DNA testing [and] it might take some time. But I had to tell them [relatives] until the authorities make the decision that they are going to release [the bodies], we have to abide to the country’s laws,” the public security minister pointed out.

He noted that from his understanding the bodies that were recovered are “badly decomposed” and the only way to ascertain rightfully “who are these persons …DNA is the best way to know this and they are asking the Guyanese relatives to be cooperative.”

Asked if the government has committed to assist in transporting the bodies back to Guyana, the minister responded in the negative.

On Saturday, relatives of the missing fishermen were called to Paramaribo, Suriname where they provided samples for DNA matching to help identify several bodies that have been recovered.

The April 27th attack by suspected Guyanese pirates off the Surinamese coast has stoked fears in the fishing industry straddling the two countries and there have been calls for both Georgetown and Paramaribo to take concerted action.

The search for the twelve missing fishermen is continuing. However, as time goes by the chances of the search team finding them gets slimmer and slimmer.

The missing men who have been identified are: Tilaknauth Mohabir, 50, also known as ‘Kai’; Ganesh Beharry, Ralph Anthony Couchman, 19, also known as ‘Burnham’; Ramesh Sancharra, 48; Glenroy Jones, 21; Ramnarine Singh; Bharat Heeralall also known as “Record”, 49; Sunil known as Poddock, Mahesh Sarjoo, 35 and Rajkumar Bissessar. Three other fishermen are still to be identified.

Four boats were attacked by pirates in Surinamese waters two Fridays ago. Each boat was said to have been carrying five passengers, including four fishermen and a boat captain, most of whom were Guyanese. Sixteen were said to be missing after the attack.

However, four men who survived the attack were rescued initially, and then a fifth survivor was found last Thursday. In the first instance, the survivors were Darmandew Persaud, Anil Lall, 18, Marvin (only name provided) and a Surinamese national, whilst Sherwin Lovell, 42, was found last Thursday.

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